ambient Avant Garde Experimental field recordings review tuned percussion

Dale Berning – The Horse Stories Review

Smudged electric piano.

Sounds like…

Electric pianos. Smudged with field recordings.

The review

In the world of experimental glitchy musical dreams, you’ll likely find Dale Berning. With Dale’s new release ‘The Horse Stories’, we have forty minutes of pastoral soundscapes. From vinyl spits on keyboards to distance binaural chimes, it is a strange collection that I think found sound lovers and will enjoy. It might be a bit too abstract for others though.

To explain how the album works succinctly is quite tricky. Imagine snippets of vibraphone, mbira, glockenspiel and electric pianos chopped up and glitching slowly. Now add in sounds like water droplets, crystal bouchets or bowls and noise clips. Fire it up into the sky. Listen to the distant echoes. That is the best way I can describe it. Yes, there are melodies but it is like you are hearing the afterburn of them rather than the main event.

Dale Berning

There is one album I can relate to here and its Otograph’s Pixeljunk Monsters soundtrack. That was far more melodic and synth-based. Here we have ‘Shadow Moving’ as a splashing bathtub, ‘Vase’ as a spinning stereo pan of clinks and ‘Piano’ as a skipping stuck needle of ivories on a low pass filter.

Whilst I applaud the excellent sound design and the showcasing of unusual tuned percussion, many tracks feel like a swim into a mood without a hook. Part of this will be because the music is for Hiraki Sawa’s film Going Places Sitting Down. A soundtrack often adds to the visuals, not take them over. I did find this a little too passive for my personal tastes but can absolutely see the merit in found sound, field recording and electric piano lovers actively seeking this out.

Dale Berning has a talent for creating pastoral clouds of sound. The standout piece for me is the absolutely gorgeous ‘Ship and Camel’. It is where melody, feel and production comes together to really give you the warmest of hugs. I’d love to hear Dale explore that in the future.

Recommended track: Ship and Camel

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Dale Berning - The Horse Stories



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